HANG TIME, Texas – The one thing for certain about listening to Mark Cuban – it’s never boring.
So the listeners to the Ben & Skin Show on 103.3 The Ticket in Dallas learned that: 1) Kobe Bryant could have become a Mav in 2007; 2) the 2013 Mavs might be better off without Deron Williams; and 3) yes, he’s still mad at Jason Kidd. John Machota of the Dallas Morning News as well as ESPNDallas.com’s Jeff Caplan provide the juicy details:
“When I was doing Dancing with the Stars, I was taking breaks because I was talking to Kobe’s agent because Kobe wanted to get traded,” Cuban explained. “Literally, between Dancing with the Stars practices I had thought we traded for Kobe Bryant. I even talked to their owner and thought we were going to have done deal, and [Lakers GM] Mitch Kupchak changed [Kobe’s] mind and brought him back.”
Of course, things did work out for both sides with Kobe staying in L.A. and the Lakers winning back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010, followed by Dirk Nowitzki leading Dallas to the first championship in franchise history in 2011.
And it’s possible for Cuban to rationalize on being unable to convince the hometown hero Williams to return to Dallas.
“I don’t want to pick on Deron Williams because he’s a great, great, great player, and so it’s not necessarily him, per se,” Cuban said. “The conversation we had going back and forth — and obviously the decision was to go for him — but the conversation was, ‘OK, once you add $17.1 million in salary to what we’d have with Dirk and Trix (Shawn Marion), then what do you do?’ That’s your squad. And it’s not just your squad for this year. It’s your squad for next year other than the $3.3 million mini midlevel.
“So that was a challenge that we had because we want to win, and everybody talks about Dirk’s window. Well, not only would it have been difficult to add players, then it also would have been difficult to trade players, and in reality that was the same problem that Deron had. Because he looked and saw the same thing and said, ‘OK, now what are you going to do?’”
We can even understand that Cuban has a legitimate reason to feel betrayed by Kidd’s sudden departure for the Knicks. The guard had seemingly agreed to a three-year deal with Dallas, only to back out of it and take his talents to New York.
Cuban is still fuming at Kidd’s handling of the situation and said there’s no chance he’ll consider retiring Kidd’s No. 2 jersey.
“I was more than upset. I thought he was coming. I was pissed,” Cuban said. “J-Kidd is a big boy; he can do whatever he wants. But you don’t change your mind like that. That was … yeah. I’m sure I’ll get over it at some point, but as of now, I wouldn’t put J-Kidd’s number in the rafters.
“It hurt my feelings, period, because I felt that we had developed a relationship, and I thought that he was committed to the organization. It sure seemed that he was. I mean, J-Kidd was active in going out there and talking to Deron Williams the whole time. I guess it was more shocking and surprising than anything else.”
But the walk down memory lane and salary cap gymnastics can’t escape one unavoidable fact — the Mavs are entering the 2012-13 training camp with a roster that seems to be held together with duct tape and chewing gum.
It was a bold and debatable decision to not overpay to keep Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea before the 2011-12 season, thus quickly breaking up the championship gang before they even had a chance to receive their championship rings. But the payoff was supposed to come this summer in the form of salary cap space and maneuvering to land one — or even both — of the big fish in Dwight Howard and Williams.
Instead, loyal Mavs fans have to be content with Jason Terry, Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi leaving, Elton Brand, O.J. Mayo, Chris Kaman and Darren Collison arriving and a new bucketful of hope off in the distance for next summer. The additions are all solid veterans and decent pickups, but a long way from championship material. They’re mere placeholders until next summer, when Cuban says the Mavs could be back in the hunt for free agents Howard, Andrew Bynum or Chris Paul.
How long can you keep kicking the can down the road? The clock is ticking on the shelf life of the 34-year-old Nowitzki’s career and instead of talking what would could have been, there needs to be a plan for right now.
By the way, Cuban says he’s certain that Dirk would never ask to be traded away to a contender to finish out his career.
Of course, one way to make certain of that is to assemble another one in Dallas immediately. That’s a conversation that would make it worth tuning in on the radio.